Cannon, A(nn) E(dwards)
Cannon, A(nn) E(dwards)
PERSONAL: Born in Salt Lake City, UT; daughter of Patti Louise Covey and LaVell Edwards; married Ken Cannon; children: Philip, Alec, Dylan, Geoffrey, Quinton. Education: Brigham Young University, B.A. (English literature), M.A. (English literature). Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, traveling, cooking, knitting, collecting antique dolls.
CAREER: Children's book author and journalist.
MEMBER: Authors Guild, Authors League.
AWARDS, HONORS: Delacorte Press Prize for Outstanding First Young-Adult Novel, 1988, for Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-Man by Night; New York City Public Library Outstanding Books for Children designation, 2002, and Utah Book Award, and PEN Award finalist, all for Charlotte's Rose.
Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-Man by Night, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1988.
The Shadow Brothers, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1990.
Amazing Gracie, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1991.
Sam's Gift, Shadow Mountain (Salt Lake City, UT), 1996.
Charlotte's Rose, Wendy Lamb Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Great-Granny Rose and the Family Christmas Tree, illustrated by Jacqui Grothe, Deseret Books (Salt Lake City, UT), 1996.
I Know What You Do When I Go to School, Gibbs Smith (Salt Lake City, UT), 1996.
On the Go with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe, illustrated by Elwood H. Smith, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.
Let the Good Times Roll with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe, illustrated by Elwood H. Smith, Viking (New York, NY), 2004.
What's a Mother to Do? (humor), Signature Books (Salt Lake City, UT), 1997.
Contributor to Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Exponent II, New Era, Parent Express, Teen, and This People. Columnist for Deseret News.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A third "Pirates" book.
SIDELIGHTS: A. E. Cannon is a writer with remarkable insights into the concerns of young people. Her fictional characters are sensitively drawn, prompting readers to identify with their anxieties and fears while applauding their successes. At the same time, commentators have noted that the problems confronting Cannon's young characters are neither trite nor overblown; issues such as independence, sibling rivalry, and even depression and suicide are thoughtfully considered in her works.
Cannon was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and raised in Provo. Her interest in literature began when she was felled by a serious childhood illness that required her to remain in bed for the better part of a year, under strict doctor's orders not to engage in strenuous physical activity. "With nothing else to do, I was forced to discover books," Cannon recalled on her Web site. "Before I knew it, books moved into my life permanently, setting up house and lounging around in chairs and on the foot of my bed just like a crowd of favorite cousins."
After graduating from Provo High School, Cannon attended Brigham Young University, earning a bachelor's degree followed by a master's degree in English literature. She published her debut novel, Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-Man by Night, in 1988.
Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-Man by Night is the story of a high school football player named Cal Cameron who, despite popularity and good looks, is having a crisis of conscience. His friends seem suddenly shallow and insensitive, and even football begins to lose its appeal. In addition, Cal is troubled by problems at home: his grandfather, an ornery, despotic patriarch, adores Cal but constantly belittles both Cal's father and his older brother, making Cal's own relationship with his father and brother somewhat strained. Cal is totally lost until he meets Marti, a new girl who seemingly cares nothing about impressing others and is not afraid to speak her mind. Marti seems to have what Cal feels he is lacking, and through their friendship he gains a better understanding of himself. School Library Journal contributor Janet DiGianni offered a favorable assessment of Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-Man by Night, asserting: "This is a totally absorbing novel, with flesh and blood characters that readers will care about and stay with until the end."
A young man's coming-of-age is also the topic of Cannon's second novel, The Shadow Brothers. Narrated by sixteen-year-old Marcus Jenkins, The Shadow Brothers focuses on Marcus's relationship with his foster brother, Henry Mazzie—a Navajo who has lived with the Jenkins family since the age of seven. Henry has always been the leader of the two boys, with superior athletic and academic skills, while Marcus slipped easily and comfortably into his role as the underachieving shadow of Henry. During the brothers' junior year in high school, the appearance of another Native American student at school causes the tension level to increase. The newcomer is defiant of authority and challenges Henry both athletically and spiritually, calling him an "apple": red on the outside and white on the inside. Henry then struggles with an identity crisis that culminates in his decision to return to his tribal reservation to find his roots, leaving Marcus to learn to stand on his own merits. In Horn Book, Margaret A. Bush described The Shadow Brothers as "a sensitive account of the intricacies of brotherhood in which old dependencies must be redefined." Nina VandeWater, writing in Voice of Youth Advocates, added that "Cannon writes with humor, empathy, and a light touch."
In Amazing Gracie Cannon tackles suicide, depression, and growing up. Gracie is a pretty high-school sophomore with many friends and a close relationship with her widowed mother, Cynthia. While Cynthia remarries, she continues to struggle with debilitating depression, causing Gracie to worry about her mother's health as well as the instability created in planning her own future.
In a review of Amazing Gracie for Horn Book, Margaret A. Bush commented that, "for all of its sobering content, the story resounds with a tempered optimism; friendship is a dominant theme, treated in many facets." Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Marian Rafal praised Cannon's depiction of her central character, asserting: "Gracie is a strong character and readers will identify with her anxieties and fears, and will applaud her insights at novel's end." Barbara Chatton, reviewing Amazing Gracie for School Library Journal, offered an assessment that highlights a common thread running through each of Cannon's works: a young person's concerns over his or her identity. Chatton commented: "While [Amazing Gracie] includes a medical issue and a blended family, it is not a problem novel. Instead, it focuses on the universal desire of every young teen to be thought competent and unique."
Cannon delved into her own family background in creating the plot of Charlotte's Rose, "an engrossing, detailed, thoroughly real story of faith, family, and community," in the words of a Kirkus Reviews critic. In the work, twelve-year-old Charlotte and her widower father, both converts to the Mormon church, immigrate from Wales to America, where they seek the promised land of Zion. After arriving by cattle car in Iowa City, Charlotte and her fellow travelers begin an arduous journey during which they use pushcarts to transport their belongings across the prairies and mountains. After a young mother dies while giving birth to a baby girl, Charlotte agrees to care for the newborn, whom she names Rose. When Rose's father overcomes his grief and wishes to reclaim his daughter, Charlotte is forced to make a wrenching decision. "Charlotte herself blossoms through her sacrifice," noted a reviewer in Publishers Weekly, "and her maturation will likely endear her to readers." According to School Library Journal contributor Carol A. Edwards, Charlotte's Rose "offers a genuine headstrong girl in hardscrabble circumstances with a lightness of heart and a strong will to do right."
In addition to novels, Cannon has created a picture-book series for early readers. In On the Go with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe she introduces a pair of buccaneer brothers who prefer to play the hornpipe and collect seashells rather than plunder and pillage. Best known for their fear of water and their stinky feet, Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe travel around in a black minivan dubbed the "Jolly Roger," accompanied by their pets, Studley the cat and Dudley the dog. When the time comes to locate an authentic pirate's parrot, the pair pass over both an operatic bird and a multilingual bird to purchase Bucko, a parrot who can say only one thing: "Yo ho!" Let the Good Times Roll with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe details the further adventures of the wacky duo. This time the brothers visit the home of the Pirate Queen, who is nowhere to be found. After Pete and Joe futilely search under the queen's bed as well as in her hot tub, the royal person arrives with a seafood buffet to feed the hungry pair, who turn out to be her sons.
Reviewing On the Go with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe in School Library Journal, Carol Schene remarked that Cannon's "compact text has just enough repetition for beginning readers, who will enjoy these charming protagonists." Reviewing the sequel, School Library Journal contributor Laura Scott praised Cannon's "lively, accessible text," and a contributor in Kirkus Reviews remarked that Let the Good Times Roll with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe "won't be headed for Davy Jones's locker any time soon."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 1, 1988, p. 1334; October 1, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of Charlotte's Rose, p. 340.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 1991, p. 33.
Horn Book, July-August, 1990, Margaret A. Bush, review of The Shadow Brothers, p. 461; January-February, 1992, Margaret A. Bush, review of Amazing Gracie, pp. 79-80; November-December, 2002, Christine M. Heppermann, review of Charlotte's Rose, p. 749.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2002, review of On the Go with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe, p. 650; August 15, 2002, review of Charlotte's Rose, p. 1220; January 15, 2004, review of Let the Good Times Roll with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe, p. 81.
Kliatt, July, 2004, review of Charlotte's Rose, p. 14.
Publishers Weekly, June 8, 1990, Diane Roback and Richard Donahue, review of The Shadow Brothers, p. 56; November 22, 1991, review of Amazing Gracie, p. 58; September 9, 2002, review of Charlotte's Rose, p. 69.
School Librarian, August, 1992, p. 112.
School Library Journal, April, 1988, Janet DiGianni, review of Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-Man by Night, p. 111; August, 1991, Barbara Chatton, review of Amazing Gracie, p. 195; August, 2002, Carol Schene, review of On the Go with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe, p. 148; September, 2002, Carol A. Edwards, review of Charlotte's Rose, p. 220; February, 2004, Laura Scott, Let the Good Times Roll with Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe, p. 104.
Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 1990, Nina VandeWater, review of The Shadow Brothers, p. 277; October, 1991, Marian Rafal, review of Amazing Gracie, p. 222.
A. E. Cannon Web site, http://www.aecannon.com (July 15, 2005).